Mother dies, two young boys injured in Florida Keys parasailing accident

Published: June 1, 2022 5:52 AM EDT
Updated: June 1, 2022 5:53 AM EDT
A new video was released Wednesday of the parasailing accident in Florida that killed an Illinois mother and injured two young boys.
A parasailing accident that killed an Illinois woman and injured two boys. Credit: CBS Chicago

A family vacation in the Florida Keys turned tragic for a family from Schaumburg, Illinois, this week, as a woman died and two young boys were hurt in a parasailing crash.

As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported Tuesday night, officials in Florida say weather played a factor. Meanwhile, industry experts have questions about what the operators were doing at the time of the accident.

On Monday, strong winds slammed a parasail into the old Seven Mile Bridge near Marathon in the Florida Keys.

A Schaumburg mother identified as Supraja Alaparthi, 33, died in the crash. Her son Sriakshith Alaparthi, 10, and nephew Vishant Sadda, 9, were both injured.

An accident report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said severe weather was a factor. Shortly after the three victims were in flight, a strong gust of wind almost immediately “pegged” the parasail – meaning the wind took over control of the parasail from the boat below.

This made for a situation so dangerous that the captain made the difficult choice to cut the line tethered to the victims. They were dropped from an unknown height and dragged through the water by the floating parasail until it finally hit the old Seven Mile Bridge, the report said.

Fisherman John Callion was out on a charter and was the first to respond as a good Samaritan. He described the experience on Facebook:

“I like to believe that, you know, he’s got a lot of pride that he’s carrying – knowing that ultimately, I think he saved one, if not two, young children’s lives – so I think that outweighs the sorrow and the sadness,” said Callion’s wife, Kasey Platt.

Callion brought the victims to the nearest restaurant for medical help. That was where Platt arrived.

“I think, at the end of the day, he’s very, very grateful that both children are, you know, hopefully going to be around to tell the story,” Platt said.

Mark McCulloh founded the Parasail Safety Council and pushed to strengthen Florida’s parasailing safety laws in 2014. He weighed with questions about the accident, and the captain’s actions.

“I think that’s what the question is – what did he do when he saw that frontal system moving?” McCulloh said.

He points to a few key factors in the deadly parasailing accidents he’s on which he has consulted.

“A common factor was the wind – how do you deal with it? How far do you stay offshore? What type of equipment you were using; the care of the equipment,” McCulloh said. “I can tell you – the winds on the west coast of Florida, you got to be really on your toes to parasail.”

Alaparthi’s son Sriakshith’s injuries were described as minor. Nephew Vishant was taken to an area hospital for additional treatment.